It takes years to become an overnight success!
I’m not the most patient person in the world! I, like most people these days, want things NOW or failing that I want to have a plan in place so I can schedule around them. But life doesn’t work like that.
Only around 4% of babies turn up on their due date. Some are early, some are late and some have to be given a swift metaphorical kick in the pants to get them moving at all. This makes the last trimester of pregnancy, not only staggeringly uncomfortable, but an exercise in both patience and dealing with uncertainty… two things I monumentally suck at!
Planning for Success
“Hermione, when have any of our plans ever actually worked? We plan, we get there, all hell breaks loose.” Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
In many ways successfully working in the creative industries – such as art or writing – is a lot like pregnancy: It’s deceptively difficult, people assume it should make you glow with happiness and there’s a lot of waiting involved. Success requires patience, hard work and accepting that you have very little control.
In terms of baby-brewing this means you can do everything right – from kegals to antenatal classes – but none of it guarantees you’ll deliver on your due date! Pre eclampsia, gestational diabetes or a baby who decides that 42 weeks is far more his speed can all still mess up your careful plans. All you can do is your best and wait and see… patiently or not!
Much the same can be said for writing. I can write, by which I mean I can slap words on a page and rewrite and edit them where necessary. I can send these words out in to the world, either in the form of a book or in magazines or through self-publishing on my blog, social media, Wattpad or Kindle etc. But I can’t guarantee anyone will read them, much less like them!
There are thing I can do to help people to find them, in the form of marketing, and, to some extent at least, like them, by way of good proofing and editing. Still that control is limited and none of it guarantees profit or popularity.
Patience Is A Virtue
In the end we have no choice with both successful writing or childbirth but to embrace the lost art of patience.
Much in the same way as I’m packing hospital bags, rereading the literature on Lamaze breathing, building cots and planning, in immaculate detail, just how much I’m going to enjoy my first post natal, fully caffeinated cappuccino and plate of Brie, Ardennes pate and pre-made salad, when it comes to writing I’m going to try and enjoy all the wonderful sense of anticipation it affords.
Wait For It
Anticipation is somewhat unappreciated these days as we all seek instant gratification, but it can actually be an exciting sensation to be savoured. Remember that desperate excitement as a kid on Christmas Eve, wondering what Santa would bring, or that delicious thrill at seeing a brightly wrapped birthday present waiting for you on the table? That’s the sensation I’m after.
I find at this time of year I start to get that thrill as I wait for spring to melt away the dark and gloomy days of January and February and fill the trees with birdsong and the flower beds with colour. And, in writing terms, I’m more than familiar with that wonderful prickle of excitement that comes with a fresh idea for a story. There is a similar, though less intense, version for finishing writing something too… as long as you enjoy the moment before you start thinking of edits, rewrites and the whole post-production circus – celebrate the win people!
Hang on a minute…
Perhaps that is how I should start thinking about childbirth too. Stop focusing on the long, scary process of delivery with all its pain and uncertainty, and instead concentrate on the fact that it’ll mean that I get to meet my little boy and that the long months of pregnancy induced mood swings, back aches, nausea, food restrictions, swelling and oozing (oh, it’s such a sexy time!) is done and our little family can start to look to the future as a foursome.
As to creative success? Well, it’s harder to feel anticipation for that. Maybe the key to that is, like going in to labour, is not to think about it at all but gloss over it and start eagerly anticipating the next story with its bold new worlds to explore, crazy adventures to have and exciting new characters to get to know.
Success will come or not in the same way that labour will start when it starts, but being a writer isn’t about having people like what you write, or making money or getting a publishing deal, it’s about sitting down and putting words on paper (or screen), about bringing characters to life and weaving their stories. That I can do, and what’s more, I can get pretty damn excited about it.